Taking on water?Posted: 14/08/2008
Some boats get a really significant amount of water in the tanks on odd occasions. Many other boats get a small amount of water in the tanks every time they go sailing it seems; this quickly becomes very annoying. Obviously slowly taking on water during a race increases the weight of the boat. More importantly water being able to get into buoyancy tanks is clearly not safe and leaks have a habit of getting worse. So tracking down the leak can be important but can often drive us mad.
Pete Vincent, Chairman of the RS Class Association and owner of West Country Boat Repairs takes us through the process. When starting to track a leak down first do a basic inspection of the boat. Check the hull to deck join throughout for cracks; look for loose fittings and particularly look at screws and sealing rings on bungs/hatch covers.
The majority of leaks are due to perished sealing rings or rivets holding hatchs in having pulled out. Individual classes have known weak points where leaks can occur and these should be checked. If a leak occurs infrequently try to remember the circumstances when it did occur. This will help narrow down the area of the hull to look for the leak.
Water is extremely good at finding its way through the smallest of holes or cracks and despite several close inspections of the hull, all fitting, putting on new sealing rings around hatchs that leak is still there driving you mad. You now need to carry out a leak test. We simply are going to put pressure into the hull or tank by blowing air into the hull through a bung socket or hatch, the extra pressure inside the hull will force air out through the hole or crack hopefully allowing us to detect the problem.
The first task is to close the breath hole that almost all GRP boats have to prevent air pressure building inside the hull, particularly on hot days. On many boats the hulls breath hole is behind or near a rudder fitting as shown on this RS300
The breath hole is simply closed by putting a piece of tape over the hole.
Then find something to use to blow air into the hull, we use a simple hand pump often sold to blow up air beds etc, the nozzle happens to be a good fit into Holt and RWO bung sockets.
If you do not have such a pump to hand then any piece of tubing can be used and use your own lung power, just ensure there is a seal with the bung socket by using packing and tape. Another commonly used method is to drill a hole through an old hatch cover, put a piece of tubing through and resin tube into place. Before starting the test get some warm soapy water, use washing up liquid as this gives plenty of small bubbles.
The soapy water is used purely as a tool to highlight air escaping and identify the leak. Sponge this soapy water around all the fittings as we have done on this RS300.
If there is a problem with any of the screw/bolts holes associated with these fittings then only a small amount of extra pressure blown into the tank will rapidly be highlighted, as big bubbles will appear around the fitting as air blows out through the hole and into the soapy water. In this case no such problem was shown around the fittings so we moved onto the next most likely area, the hull to deck join. Rather than trying to check the whole boat in one go break the boat down into sections or areas so you can keep a careful eye on a small area as you pressure the hull and eliminate sections as you narrow down the possible reasons for the leak There was not a trace of a leak until we reached the transom and we really did not need the soapy water, when we produced real pressure in the hull there was a gale blowing out of the hull to deck joint below the rudder fittings. When we put soapy water in this area very large bubbles immediately appeared as soon as we pressurised the hull.
Even with very close examination of the joint it was difficult to spot the problem but this soon became obvious when we used a fine knife blade.
The hull had broken away from the bonding paste probably caused when the transom hit the ground when the boat was being taken off the road trailer. This crack would easily allow water into the hull. With the reason for the leak clearly identified it was a simple repair to fix the joint.
Guidelines for carrying out a leak test are as follows:-
- Try to narrow down possible areas where boat leaks from the conditions when boat leaked.
- Check most common areas for leaks such as bungs/hatches first and particularly known problem areas for your class of boats.
- Before carrying out test seal breath hole and ensure tube/nozzle for pipe your going to use to blow into hull forms a good seal in bung hole.
- Test a specific area of boat at a time and apply soapy water to area just before you blow air into hull.
- When you have repaired leak test again; there may be more than one leak! Pete Vincent.
If all this sounds too much like hard work West Country Boat Repairs can do it all for you, they can even collect and return your boat!
Pete can be contacted on 07813 899043
RS200 Sail ControlsPosted: 04/03/2009
All the rig settings from the guys and girls at the front of the fleet
Righting Lines - How toPosted: 17/11/2004
Internal PhotosPosted: 13/09/2004
Heavy Weather SailingPosted: 04/03/2009
Ian Pickard, at the front of the RS200 fleet for as long as we can remember, dispels the myth that his success in heavy weather is down to the size of his beer gut.
On The Water - GybingPosted: 26/04/2001
Gybing the RS200
If you have not got a gybing strop
on your boat then fit one. It is essential. It is a length of rope that hangs
down about 12-18 inches from the boom and is attached at the same place as the
front mainsheet block. The bottom of the strop has a loop that loops around
the mainsheet. A couple of knots or bobbles will help your grip on it. They
are not going to like hearing this but the helmsman holds the key to a perfect
gybe! The speed with which yo enter the gybe and the amount by which you alklow
the boat to round up after the boom has crossed over affect the success of the
There is less boat speed that with
faster asymmetrics. This means that heading dead downwind in the middle of the
gybe causes less of a reduction to the apparent wind. Therefore there is more
force acting on the mainsail during the gybe than there would be on faster boats.
No loss of boat speed and the kite
filling as soon as possible after the gybe. OhÖ and no capsizing!
Stage 1: Setting up for the gybe
Check you are not about to gybe into
someone down under your spinnaker!
Make sure you are holding the tiller
in the way you find it easiest to gybe. For most of us this means holding it
in the "dagger" position rather than the "pan-handle" position. Make sure the
boat is travelling reasonably fast. In moderate wind strengths where going slightly
higher may cause a marked increase in boat speed it may help to head up slightly.
Pre-set the jib. First pull the new
jibsheet until the bottom corner of the jib touches the mast and cleat. Then
uncleat the old sheet. It is essential to not loose any power out of the kite
whilst doing this. Most especially don't let it flap! This is a key time to
keep the speed on.
Stage 2: The gybe
Helm and crew
Lean the boat to windward to initiate
the turn. The degree to which you do this is governed by the wind strength.
In light winds it is a fairly significant roll to windward. It is important
not to lean across to leeward (disturbing the boat balance) to grab the gybing
strop before initiating the turn. The angle of turn should not be too sharp
so that the boat slows down because of the sudden change of direction. It should
however be quick enough to get back on the wind without loosing any boat speed
either. You should aim to steer the boat into the gybe entirely by moving weight
in the boat.
Stand up as you initiate the turn,
and don't sit down until the gybe is finished. Pulling the boom over at the
right time is critical in the RS200 once it becomes breezy. If you leave it
too late, the sudden increase in power when the boom comes over may well make
the boat capsize to leeward
if you are already starting to go high .
Grab the mainsheet down near the block and give it a sharp pull in. In a light
breeze this may be enough to flick the boom across, but if it is any windier
then combine this pull with grabbing the gybing strop in the same hand. Pull
the boom across earlier rather than later.
Your main aim is to get the kite
across and filling on the new side as soon as possible. It pays to start sheeting
in on the new side just before the boom has come across, especially in lighter
winds. The last minute flick of the old sheet just as the boat gybes seems to
be less important on the RS200 with its small kite than on bigger asymmetric
I don't seem to be able to get the kite filling quickly after the gybe...
Try gybing the spinnker earlier. In light breeze we have it completely gybed
at about the time the boom starts to come across. That way it fills instantly.
It is important not to let the sheets
go loose through the gybe or you may find the leach of the spinnaker blowing
around in front of the luff.
Stage 3: Immediately after the gybe
The boat has centrifugal force that
is throwing the rig out of the turn and the force in the mainsail on the new
leeward side will exacerbate that. These forces will be trying to make the boat
roll to leeward and spin up into the wind.
The main role is getting the kite
filling and set. Watch it is not oversheeted as that markedly decreases its
effectiveness and can tip the boat in. Your secondary role is boat balance.
It usually pays to know exactly where you are planning to sit after the gybe.
That way the helm can watch you move and do the majority of the balancing. If
the boat rolls to windward then be ready to stop it, and most importantly be
ready to lean out hard if the boat looks like capsizing to leeward after the
gybe. In our boat the crew ALWAYS sits on the new windward side whatever the
wind-strength as that gives the best vision of the spinnaker and makes it easy
to lean out if necessary. The helm knows exactly where the crew's weight is
going and can balance accordingly. It also allows for going quite high out of
the gybe and getting speed on quick.
Aim to head up onto the wind relatively
quickly after the gybe, but if it is breezy or you feel the gybe is not going
well then be ready to head up more slowly. Sometimes it pays to steer a slightly
S-shaped course through the gybe so that you bear away again slightly as the
main fills on the new side. This helps counteract some of the forces mentioned
Watch where the crew's weight is
and be ready to balance the boat either way. You should be on your feet and
Keep steering with your hand behind
your back until the gybe has finished. If you are finding problems with this
then practice gybing and steering with your hand behind your back for the first
Stage 4: After the gybe
Power up as soon as possible. Aim
to go high for speed initially so that you can get low with speed rather than
just pointing low and going slowly!
Sheet in on the new mainsheet if
necessary and possibly give a small pump to get the boat going.
Concentrate on maximum pull from
the kite once the balance is established
I keep capsizing to leeward after
the boom has come across!
- Get as much boat speed into the
gybe as possible. Don't let the kite flap just before the gybe.
- Make sure you are not going too
high too quickly after the boom gybes. It may help to bear off marginally
just after the boom comes over before heading up onto the new course. (essentially
steering a slightly S-shaped course rather than a smooth curve)
- Make sure you are getting the
boom over early rather than late.
- Make sure both of you are ready
to lean out hard after the gybe if necessary.
- Make sure you are not stopping
the boom short, but letting it all the way out on the new side after it comes
- Make sure the kite is not oversheeted.
- Make sure the jib is not still
cleated on the old side. If it is not preset then it cetainly needs to be
I sometimes capsize to windward
after the gybe!
- Make sure you are going high enough
after the gybe.
- The helm is in the best position
to feel the boat balance after the gybe and see what the crew is doing. If
the crew has sat down on the new windward side and rolled the boat to windward
then you should be ready to balance the boat the other way.
I come out of the gybe going really
- Don't steer through too sharp
It takes a while for the kite to
get filling after the gybe!
Try pulling the new sheet in earlier.
In a lighter wind practice pulling it in too early before the main has gybed.
You will see what you are aiming forÖ. the kite just snaps full and sets as
soon as the boat heads up. Now try finding the balance between when you pull
the kite around and how well you can get it to set.
Don't let the old spinnaker sheet go, or ease it too far. If the kite is getting
wrapped at the front then try giving the old sheet a final short tug before
you start sheeting on the new side.
Best of luck
Pictures of Lee Sydenham and Anne Vaudry
On The Water - Crewing Posted: 26/04/2001
Top 200 Crewing
Tips from the top.
Having crewed for Jim Hunt
in Enterprises and survived crewing for Greg O Brien; Nikki Cook has been recognised
as a top crew in much demand. She is also well known for gossiping and a wicked
sense of humour. She won the 1999 RS200 Nationals with Geoff Carveth. There
is much for the crew to do in a 200 and the crew/helm have to work hard together
to get the best of the boat. Here Nikki gives us her thoughts on crewing a 200.
Hoisting the spinnaker
Quickly crack off the jib and re-cleat
it so that it is set and pulling and you donít have to waste time after the
spinnaker is up.
Pass the spinnaker sheet to the helm
so that he can control it as you hoist and hopefully prevent it twisting.
Stand facing forwards in the boat,
never sit whilst hoisting. (Your boat will need a free floating block just behind
the cleat for the crew to hoist facing forward, see the article on making your
RS200 race fit..ed)
Pull up the spinnaker, trying to
pull to shoulder height with each pull, which is quicker than lots of short
pulls. Itís really important to make sure itís all the way up first time as
it wastes time to go back into the boat to re-hoist and requires a lot of strength
with the kite set. Also a partially hoisted spinnaker will be more likely to
capsize you to leeward.
Top tip - put a florescent marker
on the halyard where it enters the cleat with the kite fully up, then you can
tell when the spinnaker is right up.
Once the spinnaker is hoisted itís
important to get it working straight away in order to create some space between
you and the boat behind. Once thereís clear air and the boat is under control
reset jib or control lines as necessary. Doing this straight away may slow you
down allowing other boats to sail other the top of you.
If on starboard lay-line in light
airs, start hoisting the spinnaker as you approach the mark so that youíre ready
to accelerate away as you round the mark.
If on the starboard lay-line in strong
winds, let the jib off slightly, but keep weight aft and lean out as necessary.
This keeps the bow out of the water so that the helm can control the boat. If
you move into the centre of the boat before theyíve born off, the boat is harder
to steer and you may hit the mark or loose control of the boat.
Gybing the spinnaker
Whilst the spinnaker is up you need
to do a quick eyeball check that no ropes are potentially twisted itís better
than finding out mid gybe!
Before gybing quickly re-sheet jib
on other side then take up slack in new spinnaker sheet.
As boat gybes, pull spinnaker across
quickly so that there isnít time for it to develop a twist. Be careful not to
over sheet it.
Hope that Geoff is at the back of
the boat not my husband! (Sorry cookie, I do accept 50% of the blame each time
Trimming the spinnaker
Constantly keep your eye on the spinnaker
and keep playing it. I usually let the luff of the spinnaker curl 2 inches to
ensure that it is pulling maximally. Itís important that it is not in too tight.
In light winds I prefer to sit to
windward to have a better view of the spinnaker, but it depends on the helm!
Iím far more familiar with Enterprises
which are really quick, if anyone knows how to roll tack RS 200s please let
I tend to do a slow roll to windward,
but not too much roll as itís hard to clear the water quickly if you take any
I pull the jib across midline quickly
but then slowly pull it in to set it as the boat flattens out. This allows you
to accelerate out of the tack. Cleating it tight too quickly can stall the boat.
Technique in waves
Watch fore and aft position so that
the bow doesnít dig in too much.
As wave approaches move upper body
back a bit as go up the wave and move forwards to accelerate the boat down the
face of the wave taking care not to dig the bow into the face of the oncoming
Give one pull on the spinnaker whilst
on the wave to encourage planing. Helm should trim main at same time.
Advice and information to the helm.
The obvious things like course,
starting sequence, penalty taking, finishing sequence, tally system etc. Getting
drinks and knowing what snacks your helm likes in between races
i.e. Geoff likes bananas
Greg Ė it has to be
During the race:
Keep a commentary going on any areas
of the course that looks to have more wind.
Any boats coming up on starboard,
whether itís better to tack or duck behind them.
Also whatís beyond the starboard
boat, as it may be better to tack to remain in clear air than duck the boat
to stay on a lift but get buried in a pack of boats with no clear air.
Any port boats as the helm may prefer
to call them to carry on rather than tack and cause you to tack.
Any big waves as the helm needs to
bear off rather than hit it head on and fill up with water.
Any changes in compass readings.
Any sudden knocks in the wind that
may have hit a boat in front.
Obviously keep the boat flat whilst
going up wind, but be careful when leaning out that you donít obscure the helmís
view of the bow of the boat. So if the wind drops slightly stay flat but slide
your bum in rather than sitting bolt upright and getting in the way.
In between races:
Quick check of all ropes and blocks,
then catch up on GOSSIP !
On The Water - Not sinking in waves..... Posted: 26/04/2001
How to avoid sinking your 200 in waves
We have all done itÖÖ sailing along scooping in water over
the bow as we cross every wave. Each wave sinks the boat a little more, until
you are gunwale deep in water. It is possible to sail in waves and keep
the boat dry.
This is the most tricky time to keep the boat dry. Indeed there
is only one real time when things might get hairy going down-wind and that is
the set, which I will mention later. The 200 has fairly narrow bows and no traditional
foredeck, a combination that makes for a potentially very wet boat. Any wave
that breaks over the bow will spill all the way down into the hull. The water
may even stay on the foredeck for a while, holding the bow down, making the
chance of another wave over the bow even higher. As soon as you start to get
water in the boat a few things happen; you slow down, the self bailer works
less efficiently, and therefore you fill even more quickly. You will find that
easing the sheets and trying to increase speed is unlikely to make a big difference
as the 200 doesnít significantly increase speed, and you need to luff up and
pinch over the waves.
There are no special tricks to keeping the boat dry. All you
need is a nice smooth rhythm and coordinated movement of helm and crew.
Sailing along close hauled (F3-4, 3-5 foot waves) the first
thing you notice is the pitching of the boat (fore/aft and up/down), if you
donít do anything other than sail in a straight line you will find that this
pitching allows about 1 in 3 waves over the bow. This is where the trouble starts
as it soon becomes every wave! Two things reduce the chances of a wave coming
over the bow, the first thing is to alter the natural pitching of the boat and
second thing is steering.
Altering the Pitching
First I will talk about altering pitching. The helm and crew
should sit tightly together, with the crew about 15-20 cm behind the shrouds.
Sitting close doesnít reduce pitching but it does mean that it easy to make
coordinated movements as you can feel what each other are doing. The crew's
main job is to look ahead and search out that 1 in 3 or so wave that looks like
trouble and tell the helm it is coming. That alerts everyone to what is happening
and helps coordinated movement. As the bow lifts up the wave you should be sitting
in a neutral position (for the weather conditions above this means sitting out
hard). Then as you get to the crest of the wave you should roll your shoulders
forward and this will help force the boat down the wave. You will now see a
lovely wall of water heading for the bow, by rolling your shoulders back the
bow will lift up out of the water a little. Now relax back to the neutral position.
The roll forward should be quite gentle with the roll back being quite rapid.
Just moving around the boat wonít be enough to stop the water
from spilling in, you have to steer the waves as well. Taking the same situation
as above, when climbing up out of the trough you need to bear off a little.
This helps to power the boat up and get it accelerating out of the wave. At
the crest start to head up to your normal close hauled course, about the same
time you are rolling your shoulders forward. Now you are heading down the back
of the wave it is time to start to heading up. It really pays in the 200 to
have slight windward heel and be pinching hard when you get into the trough.
As you hit this new pinching course you should be just about ready for the quick
flick of your shoulders towards the stern. This helps the boat bear off and
lifts the bow. The water then slides along the windward gunwale and not up onto
the foredeck. As soon as you are out of the trough bear off and let the boat
When it is wavy it doesnít seem to pay to try and go really
high, a nice smooth zig-zag course works very well. If you find a couple of
waves come over the bow, donít worry as you can sail the boat dry. The zig-zag
technique works for all sizes of waves all you have to do is adjust the timing.
As the waves get shorter then you have to be quicker with helm movements, though
they can be less drastic. Also, when the waves are smaller you can reduce the
amount of body movement In big lovely long waves you can use slow large movements
of the rudder to steer the boat over the waves.
Setting the kite
Setting the kite in waves can be quite tricky, but a couple
of things can make life a lot easier. The first thing is try and be prepared
for the set, do as much as you can in the last few boat lengths to the top mark.
You should ease the out-haul and kicker as you approach the mark, make sure
you ease the cunningham. The crew should have brought the spinnaker sheet over
and laid it over the thwart for the helm. When you get to the mark bear off
onto a very broad reach. You will find that you catch the waves up very quickly
and the danger of nose-diving is very high. Speed is of the essence here, the
quicker the kite is up and pulling the better you are, hence all your preparation.
The crew should start to pull the kite up as soon as the boat has become stable
and at the same time the helm pulls in on the sheet. It should take no more
than four or five really big pulls on the halyard for the kite to set. When
the kite is up the helm eases the sheet and gives it to the crew. Now all you
have to do is settle down and enjoy the ride.
Make sure you gybe going flat out and you should be OK. For
the drop, give the helm the sheet and pull the kite in as quickly as you can.
If you have got a system that allows the crew to drop and set from behind the
centerboard case then do these maneuvers from there. Again, for the drop speed
is important, so be prepared. As the speed comes off the boat slows down and
the nose goes in. Be prepared for this and complete the drop quickly and all
should be fine.
Enjoy those windy wavy days,
On The Water - The Running Pole..... Posted: 26/04/2001
Using the Running Pole
The running pole is not
the best loved piece of kit on our boat! However we do find it quick on runs
until we plane, so we have kept trying and now often manage without major knitting.
Hereís how we do it, in case itís any help.
First, some notes on how we sail the boat - as other set-ups
may need something different:
1. We are on a single patch kite. I think 2 patch may be easier for getting it down.
2. We have rerigged our sprit tack line and check lines as one, as on the new 2 patch system.
3. We have removed the long elastic from the boom and have the running pole loose. It stows through small loops near the back of the boom and hooks to the original piece of elastic near the front of the boom.
4. When running, the crew sits on the windward gunwhale touching the shroud and the helm on the thwart to leeward.
5. We always go into normal reaching mode with sprit extended after hoisting
and before dropping as we always get a massive knot otherwise.
Here is our action log (i.e. what we wished weíd
After hoisting in reaching mode:
|1. Ease halyard.
||1. Pull on check line.
|2. Put the check line knot in the ĎVí. Cleat halyard.
|3. Goosewing with weather sheet
|(Get speed on - on short legs you wonít want
to bother with the pole.)
||4. Pass pole from boom to crew.*
|5. Put pole onto windward sheet and mast.
Gybing (if your pole is free in the boat):
||1. Gybe the jib sheets
|2. Pull in new spinnaker sheet.
||2. Gybe the main.
|3. Put pole onto new sheet, take off old sheet and put onto
||3. Pull on windward sheet and set kite.
Gybing (if you use the elastic system
supplied with the boat):
|1. Remove the pole and pass it back down the leeward side
of the boom. Take care to pass it the right side of the shrouds (it may
help to sheet the main in very slightly)
|| 1. Gybe the jib sheets.
|2. Pull in new spinnaker sheet and goosewing
||2. Gybe the main.
||3. Pass pole from boom to crew.*
|4. Put pole onto windward sheet and mast.
Changing from Running to Reaching mode
before the drop:
|1. Keep spinnaker setting.
||1. Release check line knot from ĎVí.
||2. Pull tweeker line down mast.
||3. Pull halyard up.
|4. Take pole off and stow on boom.
||4. Take leeward spinnaker sheet and set kite in reaching mode
or if you are dropping in a panic make sure thereís tension on the sheets
(i.e. not flapping).
|* If the crew is sat on windward gunwhale we find there is less disturbance
in the boat if the helm passes the pole to the crew. Prior to this the crew
is keeping the spinnaker filled with an arm held out.
Easy really - but here are some more tips from our experience:
1. If kite ends up twisted around the sprit, or the downhaul
or sheets fall over the sprit then send crew onto foredeck.
2. If clew gets into chute before the head and it is stuck,
relaunch and try again, keeping some tension on the sheet while dropping.
3. If using the continuous elastic system take care not to
twist the pole over so that a loop is formed in the elastic on the ring.
Deciding which side to set:
1. A burgee is particularly useful in deciding which side to
set the spinnaker and vital for knowing when to gybe when it is windy.
2. Aim to set the spinnaker on the windward side of the boat.
The spinnaker will not fill well if the mainsail is "by the lee".
3. If you are heading back to a leeward mark that you have
just beat up from then expect to be on the opposite tack to the longest
tack of the beat.
Dropping and hoisting in Running Mode:
1. Dropping in Running mode is a fairly high risk strategy.
It is very easy for the sheets to fall in front of the sprit and usually
at a time when the leeward mark is fast approaching!
2. Some boats do hoist directly into running mode. It seems
to be important not to let the sheets loose so they fall over the front
of the sprit.
1. Running down on port tack, especially amongst other boats
that are gybing downwind leaves you with few, if any, rights of way. Starboard
tack running boats should still be aware that they will usually have to give
way to starboard tack boats gybing downwind as these boats will have luffing
2. With the continuous elastic system it may be less easy to
"crash-gybe" than with a free pole.
Things in the water!
1. We have the centreboard 3/4 up in light weather and as far
up as we dare when windier. It is a good idea to put it down before manoeuvres
2. Donít leave pole dragging in the water for too long (e.g.
in the middle of a gybe) as it works well as a brake.
3. With loose pole, recommend only dropping pole overboard when being followed
by someone who will pick it up for you. It does seem to float for some time
Rope lengthsPosted: 04/04/2008
Need to replace your jib sheets but the boats at the sailing club.....and it's snowing.... look no further!